Continental Encounter on Indigenous Theology
“Colors, smells, costumes, music, languages, symbols, offerings, testimonies … the diversity of Abya Yala unites in the hope of continuing the weaving of full life through the VIII Continental Meeting of Indigenous Theology of the Latin American Ecumenical Coordination of Indigenous Peoples, AELAPI, composed of indigenous networks sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church and the Latin American Council of Churches, CLAI.
For the first time CLAI, through its Indigenous Ministry, coordinated by the Reverend Miguel Salanic, hosted and organized this meeting, bringing together 235 men and women across the continent, of which 50 were representatives of churches and member organizations of CLAI. The meeting took place in Panajachel, in the southwestern Guatemalan Highlands, less than 90 miles from Guatemala City, from September 26th to 30th, 2016. One of the main challenges of the Encounter was affirm the value of ancestral spiritualities when they invite the community to talk “to God”, not “about God”.
These days allowed the participants to deepen on their ecumenical commitment in a broad and comprehensive sense and to go further on their efforts to foster different perspectives of knowledge and criticism of the reading and understanding of all the sacred books, to commitment themselves in every decolonization effort as each day they witness new forms of domination that threaten life: extractive economies, gender inequalities, fundamentalism in all its forms, they said. Here is the Final Declaration of the event:
To our sisters and brothers of the indigenous peoples of the world
To our sisters and brothers united by faith in Jesus Christ
To all our sisters and brothers who dream and fight for a world where all of us fit with dignity and justice
It is dawn our meeting in a day, Jun Tz’ikin, when the Word is woven, and birds announce the arrival of the brothers in the Southern Cone, the Amazon, the Andes, the Caribbean, Mesoamerica, the brothers of the Latin American Council of Churches and solidarity in Europe. With the smell of basil, pom, mate and cocoa; with the sound of tum, the snail, the kultrun, marimba and maracas; among the offerings of our people is formed the altar. We meet from 26 to 30 September this year, in the place that our Mayan brothers call Uk’u’x Kaj-Uk’u’x ulew (Heart of Heaven-Earth Heart). Rain, sun and cold clothed we like the breeze of Lake Atitlan, symbolizing the passage of suffering and pain of the Maya people to its revival and all our peoples.
We were summoned by the Great Spirit and have responded from the four corners of Abya Yala. We brought our word and the word of our grandmothers and grandfathers. We present our flowers, thorns and fruits, what we saw and felt, what we pray, proclaim and denounce:
Dawn broke the first day, Kieb ‘Ajmaq. Remember how expressed, analyzed how our grandparents reality, which rescued their practices. “The pain of your brother is my pain. Our struggle is brotherhood, equality, “says one guna sister on the sacred word of Ibeler. We also analyze our reality today with song, dance, rituals, languages; with theater, prayer, blessings and writings, with all that were exposing our analysis and reports today: murders, impunity, threats everywhere to our territories, mega hydroelectric projects and devastating mining laws against life, servile governments neoliberalism, destruction of mother nature with agribusiness, pesticides and GMOs, criminalization of leaders and social struggles. But also, it is women and elderly resistance, revitalization of rites that consolidates identity service that strengthens many brothers.
And the second day dawned, Oxib ‘No’j: drank wisdom of our great wise and wise, that today help us to find the ways of God. What symbols, what signs, what forms, what words, what lights from our people bring to light the darkness of the societies in which we live? That was our task.
Enriched with the original spiritual strength, which opened our hearts and reaffirmed that God walks with us, we talk about our struggles for harmony of life, of sharing ourselves especially with the poor and sick, organized community with an attitude of service, solidarity with migrants, unity in diversity. They are contrary to the neoliberal society values and help us all-indigenous and non-indigenous to overcome the terrible and systematic threats to kill and destroy our people and to Mother Earth. Our community work is inspired by the sacred word on the organization of ants-ants. Hummingbirds must be brave to face the great enemies. Dreams, dance, songs give us strength to get to the bottom of these truths.
It cleared the third day, Kiejeb Tijax: We saw and feel, remember and acknowledge how our people made commitments to overcome evil and live the ideals of their cultures. Also what commitments need to take, or continue assuming- today not to allow them to destroy our land; how to transform the reality of death in which we live, how to walk towards the building of our land without evil.
There are countless challenges and commitments that we assume from now on. Thanks to our God, Mother-Father; there are many things we are already doing. We believe there are some essential commitments that we reaffirm today:
As indigenous peoples:
1. We will continue to deepen the ancestral wisdom (songs, dances, rituals, sacred word of our grandparents) and share it with our youth and children.
2. Strengthen the value and participation of women seeking gender justice in our communities.
3. Maintain community dialogue to improve ourselves and unite us. Flee from division like the plague.
4. We will deliver our flowers to the pastors of our churches.
As non-indigenous brothers:
1. To continue accompanying, assuming as ours, the fate of native peoples.
2. To make pressure governments to recognize, respect and ensure the territories and rights of indigenous peoples.
3. To denounce before international bodies violations, criminalization and violence to life and dignity of indigenous peoples and peoples in voluntary isolation.
Altogether, as brothers:
1. We will build alliances and networks with respect and tolerance, to achieve full life for all.
2. We will denounce the threats of evil system that survived (for example, the disappearance of 43 young Ayotzinapa and genocide of the Guarani-Kaiowá people).
3. We will work deeply in the reconstruction of our common home, defending the territories of peoples.
4. We will make serious interreligious dialogue processes twinned us and enrich us.
5. We will work for decolonizing ourselves as churches and as society.
Hope and resistance of the people will weave these and other lianas and wires, bedroll and embroidery future of humanity, according to the Word of God that has been given to us. The Heart of Heaven-Earth Heart give us the strength to continue journeying together toward the fullness of life.
While we fight, we dream, we dance and sing, we contribute to the coming of the new heavens and new earth!
Panajachel, Joob ‘Kawok, Oxlajuj B’aktun, Maj Katun, Tun Oxib, Kajlajuj Winal, B’elej’lajuj Kin, Kieb’ yax (5,132 year long Mayan calendar) – September 30, 2016.